•  HOME 
  •  BOOKS 
  •  WWP 
  •  DONATE 
  • Loading

Follow workers.org on
Twitter Facebook iGoogle

On the picket line

Published Sep 17, 2011 9:18 AM

Hyatt Hotel workers strike in four cities

Hyatt Hotel workers in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu and Chicago who have been working without a contract since August 2009, walked out Sept. 8 for a week-long strike to demand decent wages and healthy, safe working conditions. Studies conducted by their union, UNITE HERE, show that Hyatt room cleaners have the highest injury rate in the industry. No wonder. They’re forced to lift very heavy beds while cleaning 30 rooms during an eight-hour shift.

Local 2 kicked off the protest in San Francisco by staging a march and rally in Union Square on Sept. 5, Labor Day. According to eyewitness Joan Marquardt, “More than 500 UNITE HERE and other union members and community supporters marched around the area, ending at the Grand Hyatt, where they held a picket and rally. We were able to get out Workers Worlds to the crowd.”

Victory for locked-out Honeywell workers

The 13-month struggle that ended Aug. 2 with a decent contract for Steelworkers Local 7-669 at the Honeywell International uranium processing plant in Metropolis, Ill., proved why it’s critical to build solidarity internationally as well as nationally. The 230 highly skilled workers at the largest conversion plant in the world that produces nuclear fuel for commercial reactors were locked out in June 2010, when they refused to accept drastic cuts in pension, health care and overtime benefits as well as unfair changes in seniority rules. Not only did they rally wide support from the U.S. labor movement, but they credit “a global labor coalition of organized Honeywell workers in the U.S. and Europe,” backed up by four European labor federations representing 16 million workers, with forcing Honeywell to drop its anti-worker demands. USW President Leo W. Gerard praised Local 7-669 members who “showed a commitment to fight an American multinational on principles that are rock solid about workplace safety, family health care, pensions and job fairness.” (jwjblog.org, Aug. 23)

Int’l support for postal Verizon workers

When delegates to the Post Logistics Global Conference, called by a division of the UNI Global Union, representing 900 labor unions with 20 million members worldwide, met Sept. 5-9 in Washington, D.C., they showed solidarity with U.S. postal and communication workers. Coming to the aid of three U.S. affiliates — the American Postal Workers Union, the National Association of Letter Carriers and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union — UNI PL delegates unanimously passed a resolution calling on Congress to pass H.R. 1351 to stabilize the post office’s finances and give the unions a fair playing field in the current round of contract negotiations. (www.UNIglobalunion.org, Sept. 12) Delegates also took on Verizon when they joined a 500-strong demonstration Sept. 7 called by the Communication Workers at the L Street Verizon Wireless Store. The protesters’ chant of, “Workers, united, will never be defeated!” needs to echo around the world. (Union City, newsletter of Metro D.C. AFL-CIO, Sept. 12)

Nurses demand: ‘Tax Wall Street to Heal America’

National Nurses United used creative tactics on Sept. 1 when mobilizing its members, labor activists and community supporters to lobby congressional legislators in 60 cities in 21 states. One of the largest, most eye-opening actions was the soup kitchen outside San Francisco’s federal building. NNU’s purpose: to get politicians to sign a pledge to “support a Wall Street transaction tax that will raise sufficient revenue to make Wall Street pay for the devastation it has caused on Main Street.” They are calling for a 0.5 percent federal tax on big financial transactions to raise $350 billion annually to fund jobs, health care and schools. The tax would apply to stocks, securities, debt purchases, options, credit swaps, foreign currency bets and derivatives. Why is this on NNU’s agenda? According to an Aug. 26 article in the California Progress Report, “Every day nurses see broad declines in health and living standards that are a direct result of our patients and our own families struggling with lack of jobs, unpayable medical bills, hunger and homelessness, and they are not going to let people suffer in silence any more.” To show NNU’s determination, more than 23,000 NNU members in 34 north and central California hospitals will hold a one-day strike on Sept. 22 to protest cuts in services and unsafe patient-to-nurse ratios.

LIU locks out striking faculty, cancels health coverage

When Long Island University faculty members at the Brooklyn campus went on strike the first day of classes on Sept. 7, the university immediately retaliated by locking them out and canceling health care coverage. Ralph Engelman, a delegate of the LIU Faculty Federation, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, denounced the cancellation as “an attempt to pressure us to accept their contract offer and go back to the classrooms.” (The Chronicle of Higher Education, Sept. 9) But such strong-arm tactics aren’t likely to make the teachers accept contract terms that will make them forgo raises for the next three years or link pay increases to tuition hikes. (blog.villagevoice.com, Sept. 9)